- Published: 10.10.2019.
Gov't sends package of labour and pension bills to parliament
The government on Thursday sent a bill of amendments to the Labour Act and five associated laws that define the age threshold to remain on the labour market as well as amendments to the Pension Insurance Act which return the pension eligibility age to 65 and reduce the penalties for early retirement.
Returning the age threshold from 67 to 65 was one of the demands by the "67 is too much" union referendum initiative which managed to collect more than 700,000 signatures, and with these proposed amendments the government has accepted all their demands, Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrovic said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.
"Despite the fact that, respecting the will of more than 700,000 citizens, we will accept the proposals expressed by that initiative to return the pension eligibility age to 65 and the early retirement age to 60, the government will not refrain from promoting the idea to stay on the labour market longer and acquiring a pension later. Naturally, for those people who can and wish to work after 65, i.e. to 68, legislative amendments to the Pension Insurance Act are being proposed alongside amendments to labour regulations," he said.
That in a way buffers the negative consequences and strikes a sort of balance between citizens' demands and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the pension system and of pension adequacy, he added.
"That approach provides an opportunity for anyone who wishes to work to remain on the labour market longer, which will positively impact employment, budgetary revenues and expenditures, as well as the amount of future pension allowances," the minister said explaining the package comprising seven bills.
The amendments to the Labour Act include increasing the age for working contracts to cease from 65 to 68, while amendments to the Pension Insurance Act foresee that eligibility for an old age pension is 65 years of age and 15 years of completed qualifying period instead of the current 67 years of age and 15 years of completed qualifying period.
Eligibility for early retirement foresees 60 years of age and 35 years of completed qualifying period instead of 62 years of age and 35 years of completed qualifying period.
Long-term insurees could be eligible for an old age pension at the age of 60 if they have completed 41 years of the qualifying period instead of the 61 years of age and 41 years of completed qualifying period.
Penalties for early retirement are being reduced to 0.2% rather than the current 0.3% for each month of retiring earlier than prescribed.
The transition period is being extended to balance conditions for an old age pension and early retirement for women from 31 December 2026 to 31 December 2029.
Gov't endorses report on real estate agency's activities
The government on Thursday endorsed a report on the work of the State Real Estate Agency (APN) and on business zones' operations in 2018.
APN's budget for 2018 amounted to HRK 205.5 million and it spent 54% of those funds or HRK 111 million.
The agency's total revenue amounted to HRK 282.7 million while expenditure amounted to HRK 177.1 million.
The report on the operations of free business zones in Croatia in 2018 notes that there were 11 free zones in operation, similarly to 2017, with 7 of these being onshore and 4 in ports.
A total of 89 clients operated in these free zones and employed 2,885 workers. Total revenue of all free zones amounted to HRK 1.97 billion, which is 9.3% more than in 2017, and clients generated a profit amounting to HRK 150.45 million or an increase of 35.7% year-on-year.
Total exports from free zones, including commodity dispatching to EU markets, amounted to HRK 1.01 billion or 4.3% more on the year, APN's report notes.
The government also moved law amendments to implement the EU Timber and Wood Products Regulations.
Croatia to sign Declaration creating a European Blockchain Partnership
Croatia will sign a statement of cooperation establishing a European Blockchain Partnership, the government decided at its cabinet meeting on Thursday.
The government endorsed the Declaration Creating a European Blockchain Partnership and authorised Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts Darko Horvat to sign the document.
Blockchain technology enables distributed public ledgers that hold immutable data in a secure and encrypted way and ensure that transactions can never be altered.
"Distributed ledger technology” (DLT) is finding a broad range of uses. Data storage, financial transactions, real estate, asset management and many more uses are being explored.
Horvat underscored that blockchain technology is completely transparent and immune to manipulation, corruption and absolutely trustworthy and tested.
He added that this technology is applicable to a broad range of industries - energy, health, security, finance, all data storage registers, etc.
The minister noted that most EU member states had signed the declaration which creates an international space for research and development of that technology as well as access to funds of €300 million which will be made available to member states.
He explained that 24 EU member states had signed the declaration on the use of blockchain technology and that many had already recognised its value.
Horvat presented the example of Slovenia which created 13,000 jobs directly or indirectly connected to developing blockchain technology and related projects.
One of the benefits of this technology could be to remove the possibility of mishandling the counting of votes and election results, Horvat added.
PM says gov't making maximum effort to learn missing sea captain's fate
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday the government was investing maximum effort to obtain new, useful information on the fate of Croatian seafarer Dino Miskic after the sinking of the Bourbon Rhode tug in the Atlantic on September 26.
"We are also in contact with his family," he said at the end of a cabinet meeting.
The government and the entire diplomatic service is in contact with the French authorities, to which the government has forwarded the satellite images, received from the European Maritime Safety Agency, of the part of the Atlantic where the accident occurred, Plenkovic said, adding that an area twice the size of Croatia was being searched.
He said the government's "maximum and constant engagement" would continue "until we get any information that might be useful."
The search for the missing seafarers of the French tug, which sank 2,000 km from the French island of Martinique, has been resumed after a flare was noticed on Tuesday. The search was reduced last Friday after three seafarers were found alive and four dead. Miskic was the captain of the 14-member crew.